BY INGRID BROWN
Tuesday, January 11, 2011
THE Jamaica Hotel and Tourist Association (JHTA) says hotel rooms in Montego Bay are all but sold out as hundreds of foreign delegates attending next week’s staging of the Caribbean Hotel and Tourist Association (CHTA) Caribbean Marketplace join the growing list of visitors who have been pouring into the island since the start of the winter tourist season.
Jamaica’s winter tourist season, which began on December 15, 2010, runs through to April.
According to JHTA President Wayne Cummings, more than 800 of the 1,200 delegates registered to attend the tourism conference have already booked their rooms for the three-day event which is to be held at the newly built Convention Centre in Montego Bay, St James from January 16 -18.
“In addition to the general occupancy as well as the rooms booked for Marketplace, hotels are full and all but out of rooms,” Cummings told the Observer yesterday.
Cummings said only some of the smaller hotels still have rooms and they have been helping out in accommodating local personnel who will be working at the conference.
He explained also that hotels in Ocho Rios and Negril are currently experiencing high occupancy although they are not yet sold out.
The severity of the weather in the United States, Cummings said, continues to pull even more visitors to the island. However, he said those trying to make last-minute reservations would be hard-pressed to find rooms in Montego Bay during that time.
“It doesn’t hurt that there is bad weather in the United States and so that has been working in our favour also,” he said.
And with the upcoming Jamaica Jazz and Blues Festival, scheduled from January 27 to 29, Cummings said the hotels should remain solidly booked for a while.
“In Montego Bay, there are a couple of things scheduled back-to-back and that is a very good thing for us,” he beamed.
Cummings said the rooms for the conference, which have been booked through the JHTA and the CHTA, have been provided at special rates but that some delegates have been booking directly with the hotels.
Meanwhile, the Caribbean Marketplace will be the first event to be hosted at the 84,000 square foot state-of-the-art convention centre, which had a soft opening last Friday.
The facility has the capacity to accommodate up to 6,000 persons within its 52,000 sq ft of exhibition space, nearly 21,000 sq ft of banquet facility and over 11,000 sq ft of meeting rooms.
The centre is about a 15-minute drive from Montego Bay’s Sangster International Airport and is within a few minutes of five major hotels.